Questioning AUTHORity is a weekly feature here at Bookish Serendipity in which I interview MG and YA authors. Today I am be featuring Cynthia Lord, author of Half A Chance. I reviewed this book a couple of months ago and loved it. Find my review here.
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Cynthia Lord is the author of more than a dozen books for children, including Rules, which won the Newberry Honour in 2007. She lives in Maine, where she is hard at work on her next novel. Find her on Twitter, or on her website.
ME: I loved your latest novel, Half a Chance. What inspired this particular story?
CL: Half a Chance came from growing up on a lake in New Hampshire and having an aunt with Alzheimer’s.
As a child, I loved visiting my aunt who lived down the road from us. Aunt Anne was a third-grade teacher, and she had lots of books. She also had encyclopedias that she allowed me to borrow, one volume at a time.I remember walking home, my flip-flops slapping the road, carrying kids’ books and encyclopedias under my arm.
About 20 years ago, Aunt Anne started forgetting. At first it was little things. Then we realized this was more than ordinary forgetfulness. For a long time, we kept her connected to her past with photos. We’d go through a stack of photos, telling stories. Times change, places change, and we change, but a photo holds time still. In a photo we’re always the person we were in that split second.
ME: You’ve written over a dozen novels for kids. How has the publishing process changed from your debut novel to your most recent?
CL: When I wrote Rules, my editor and I sent manuscript pages back and forth through the mail at each stage. Now most of the stages are digital. It’s faster and easier in some ways, but I miss the big stack of pages. It felt solid and important, like a real book! But you can’t beat the speed of hitting “send” and having things immediately.
ME: Your MG novel, Rules, won a Newberry Honour a few years ago. How did you react to this news?
CL: I was totally surprised that day. The Schneider Committee had called my house the day before. I was so excited that Rules had won The Schneider Family Book Award that it never occurred to me that my phone might ring again. I almost didn’t answer the call! It was one of the biggest moments of my life when I spoke to the Newberry Committee that day.
ME: What message do you want readers to take away from your writing?
CL: I would like readers to enjoy the story and come away with a sense of understanding toward people who are different and hope that no matter how life changes, you always belong to all the people you love and all the people who love you.
ME: What advice would you give to teen and aspiring writers?
CL: I think the hardest part is simply getting a whole first draft done. But here are my own two rules for a first draft:
1. Dare to be bad. By that, I mean dare not to be perfect. It’s hard to keep going when the story in your head is so much better than the one on your first-draft pages, but every writer feels that way sometimes. The goal for a first draft is just to finish.
2. Just get it done. You can’t fix what doesn’t exist. So finish that first draft without worrying if it’s good or not. Revision is when you’ll make it good.
ME: Can you tell us about current/ upcoming writing projects?
CL: Last month, I had two new books published: Hot Rod Hamster and the Wacky Whatever Race (our first early reader for that character), and a new early chapter series started called “Shelter Pet Squad” that features a group of kids who volunteer at their local animal shelter. They find a home for a pet in each book. The first one is called Jelly Bean, and he is a guinea pig.
My next novel is called A Handful of Stars and it’s scheduled to be published next May. It stars two girls, a dog, a beauty pageant, and it is set on the blueberry barrens of Downeast Maine.
Congratulations on your new releases! I’m very excited for A Handful of Stars as well. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions, and for offering to give away 1 signed copy of Half A Chance.
- You must be 13 or older, or have your parent’s permission to enter this giveaway.
- This giveaway is open to residents of the USA and Canada only.
- The Rafflecopter system will randomly pick a winner. This will be the only winner.
- Neither I or the author are responsible for lost or damaged items.
- When the contest is over, I will send you an email telling you that you won. You have 48 hours to reply to this email or, unfortunately, I will have to pick another winner.
- One entry only per person please. If I find that anyone is trying to cheat the system, I will have him/ her blocked from both this and future giveaways.
If you want to enter, you can find the giveaway here:a Rafflecopter giveaway